Story last updated at 2:18 p.m. Thursday, April 25, 2002

Honor Earth Day by recycling old computers
by Nina Faust
Rapid computer technology changes mean schools, businesses, and individuals need to upgrade equipment every two to five years to stay current. Computer carcasses pile up in closets and storage areas with few places to go but the landfill.

Recycling computers online:

  • Dell Computers' Web site:

  • Gateway Computers:

  • Share the Technology maintains a site with a national computer-donation database.

    Other sites include:



  • Computer monitors and television screens contain lead. Chipboards and other circuitry are made with small amounts of toxic heavy metals like lead, mercury, cadmium and chromium, as well as polybrominated flame-retardants, all of which are persistent, bioaccumulative toxins that can leach into soils. By 2005 about 150 million computers will be dumped in landfills, according to a Carnegie Mellon University estimate. Of course, the scale in Homer is comparatively miniscule but each year the number of locally discarded computers will increase. The Kachemak Bay Conservation Society's mission is to protect the environment of the Kachemak Bay region and encourage sustainable use and stewardship of resources.

    Computer recycling is growing as more states pass laws requiring computers and other electronic equipment be kept out of landfills. Numerous Web sites list options for computer disposal in other states.

    In Homer there are some options to recycle useable computers. Both Pick and Pay and The Salvation Army take donations of useable equipment. An ad in the "Freebie" section of the Homer Tribune or an announcement on KGTL's morning Fleamarket could find people who need computers. Computer, 235-5931, will sell computers on consignment. The Homer Senior Center is interested in connecting senior citizens who cannot afford computer equipment with potential donors. For more information contact Laurie at the Homer Senior Center at 235-7655.

    The Community Christian School can use functional computers with at least Pentium II processors. They can also use functional printers, scanners, zip drives, or other peripherals. Contact Bob Craig at 235-8907.

    The Soldotna Rotary has undertaken a major computer refurbishing project to provide schools with completely networked computer labs. Recently the service group installed 15 computers at Cook Inlet Academy and a similar networked computer lab in a Montana school district. They are also working with Rotary Clubs in Russia to provide computer labs. Donations of 90 Mhz or faster IBM compatible computers plus working peripherals are welcome, especially laser printers and inkjet printers. For information on acceptable donations and where to take equipment, call Joe Kashi at 262-4604 or email him at He will provide a receipt for donations.

    Homer High School teachers Cameron Wyatt and Pat Shields would like donations of IBM format machines to put useful technology into the hands of children who do not have the resources. Many students, particularly freshmen and sophomores, do not have a computer at home, which makes it difficult for them to complete class assignments at home. If you have a computer you would like to donate to the high school, contact them at 235-8186. The Student Philanthropy group at Homer High School also is willing to help connect computer donors with students. Contact student Hannah Heimbuch also at 235-8186.

    Some computer companies like Dell, IBM, Gateway, and Hewlett-Packard either offer trade-ins with new equipment purchases or sponsor recycling programs. The IBM PC Recycling Service will recycle any PC, including CPUs, monitors, printers, and other attachments for $29.99, including shipping. They either recycle or refurbish the equipment and then arrange to donate useable equipment. Anyone can purchase this recycling service by calling 1-800-746-7426.

    Dell Computers partners with the National Cristina Foundation to provide computer technology to people with disabilities, students at risk, and economically disadvantaged persons. Dell facilitates trading, selling, or donating of old, functional computer systems.

    Gateway Computers has partnered with Goodwill Industries to recycle computers

    People who donate computers should take some precautions to protect their privacy by removing any personal files from their computer before donating them. Removing computers and electronic equipment from our waste stream is an important goal. European companies are way ahead of the United States by requiring companies to take back electronics for recycling. Reduce, reuse, and recycle have to become accepted practices in consumer electronics or we will bury ourselves under the growing pile of unwanted computers. Last Monday was Earth Day, so help the planet by finding your old computer a new home.

    <> Nina Faust is a member of the board of directors of the Kachemak Bay Conservation Society.